How to Semi-Freeform Your Locs Properly

Many people believe that when you decide to semi-freeform your locs, that you can neglect them and be rewarded with thickness. That is NOT the case. Semi-Freeforming your locs is a technique, not to be confused with carelessness. And like many of the techniques available for locking your hair, semi-freeforming isn’t for everyone. Let’s explore what is really means to “semi-freeform” locs and find out what is takes to semi-freeform your locs properly!

Semi-Freeform is a technique for locs exclusively maintained with palm-rolling that blends the art of freeforming, or allowing your locs to grow organically without any manipulation, and the regimented loc maintenance technique that defines your parting system, loc size and shape.

As a Loctician, I encounter the semi-freeform technique causing major damage to locs when people attempt to semi-freeform their locs for the wrong reasons or they do it at the wrong time in their loc journey. One of the most common problems that is often consistent with the semi-freeform technique being used improperly is thinning. I personally attribute the issue of thinning and semi-freeforming to the internet/Youtube. So often I see people post about their locs thinning at the roots and the overwhelming response is to “leave it alone” then 3 months later they wonder why the loc is hanging on by a thread or has completely broken off.

Thinning with Semi-Freeform Locs

Thinning caused by Semi-Freeforming Locs

PSA: If your locs are thinning at the roots, you should NOT semi-freeform; it will cause more damage.


To actually be successful in cultivating locs using the semi-freeform technique you should adhere to the 5 principles of semi-freeforming.

1. Commit to minimal styling and/or tension. Even pulling your locs up into a ponytail often can be problematic when semi-freeforming. Due to the fact that the root of your locs are loose and not bound into the common cylindrical shape of locs, you risk causing your locs to become flat and/or slowing down the locking process.

2. Cleanse your hair regularly. It is important to have clean hair when semi-freeforming to prevent excessive weight from product buildup or environmental impurities. If your locs have an accumulation of buildup it will cause the roots to thin, especially with semi-freeform locs.


3. Separate Your Roots. You have to ensure that you maintain your parting system and that your locs do not fuse together while semi-freeforming and you do that by “popping your locs” at least once a week.

RELATED ARTICLE: How To Prevent Your Locs From Tangling At The Root

4. Self-Grooming. Everytime you shampoo your locs, you have to do light grooming to maintain the shape and integrity of your locs. A few techniques for self-grooming semi-freeform locs are “Loc Rubbing” and “Base Wrapping”.

5. Protect your hair. Always wear a satin scarf to bed or whenever you are lounging around the house to minimize lint and environmental debris from embedding in your locs.

I believe “Rule #4 to be the most important guideline to follow and the one that is often overlooked. However, if you stick to using all of these guidelines when you semi-freeform your locs it will help you to avoid the common mistakes with semi-freeforming such as thinning and breakage. And of course, you have to make sure that you are hydrating your locs and using products that nourish the hair and scalp because again, semi-freefrom does NOT mean neglect!

How To Semi-Freeform Your Locs

How is your experience with Semi-Freeforming?
Let me know in the comments!

How to Avoid Thinning If You Semi-Freeform Your Locs
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Jocelyn Reneé

Jocelyn Reneé is a Licensed Cosmetologist, Loctician and Textured Hair Educator. She was born and raised in the Washington DC area and is a graduate of the Aveda Institute Cosmetology Science program. With over 14 years in the Hair Care Industry, from Salon Assistant to Natural Hair Blogger to Professional; Jocelyn is passionate about cultivating healthy hair.

Blog Comments

I’m 5 years into my loc journey and although I self-maintain “traditional” locs I still find useful information on caring for my hair and scalp. Thank you very much.

I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment! Sending you lots of love on your journey!


Jacqueline Williams

Thanks for sharing your technique with us I been on my journey for 5 years I didn’t know putting my hair in a ponytail would thin out my hair I don’t put a lot of chemicals in my hair I oil it my scalp and us my spray water into my scalp to moisturize it thanks again

Thank you for being a consistent supporter! You are appreciated!

Hello, I always watch your you tube videos. Thanks for all that you do in letting out these information. But I need help in this area. I am currently on starter loc (a month old in the journey), and my goal is to have thick locs. What can I do at this stage to achieve thick locs in the future? Thank you so much.

Thick locs are determined by your foundation, not neglecting your grooming. So I would advise making sure you have the right foundation to cultivate thick locs in the future. Feel free to setup a Virtual Consultation with me and we can do a parting system analysis and create a regimen to help nurture your new starter locs!

I’m in the early early stage of me locking my hair. I had to cut my hair and just restart. I have question. When ever I wash my hair they dont stay locked accept for few of them. How do u make sure they stay lock when washing them in the early stage of them

I’ve been locing since 2011. I’m over 55 years of age I normally have very very thick hair and I do my loc’s myself since to beginning and I’ve noticed I have a lot of thinness throughout my hair and its gray.
I live in the Bay area do you recommend a loctitian I could go to in the Berkeley Richmond Vallejo area of California? Thank you

I hope that you are able to find healing for the thinning that you are experiencing. Unfortunately I do not have a recommendation in California but I would suggest reading this article, “Causes of Thinning Locs“, and seek a Trichologist in your area.

I now consider myself a semi-freeformer because I don’t do a lot of “styling” to my locs – I wash regularly, palm roll, and have set them on rods, but between that activity (once a month or so depending on growth), I don’t manipulate them much at all.

I moisturize them, sleep with a silk or satin scarf ALWAYS, and they are generally left to brush my shoulders (or lay on my shoulders for the longer ones). I brush my locs a couple of times a week (love doing this) and I’ve noticed less frizziness after brushing.

Thank you for all the great information you provide.

Love your regimen! Brushing my locs feels so good as well! The less manipulation the better! Thank you for sharing.

Hi I really love your heart, you are truthful and caring about others. I see the only loctition in this bloomington/ normal IL. She is good with her technique. But she has twisted my hair entirely too tight. I’ve asked questions about the tightening of my hair which have locked . But she ignores me her main clientele are men . Nevertheless, I am tender headed and have always been. My hair I started to loc but if keep going to her I will Not have ANY HAIR. Any suggestions. She does not know the crocheting me
thod. That I think would be so much better for me. Thank you!!!!!

Thank you so much for your compliment! 🙂 I agree that you should discontinue having your hair snatched with each session. Try to find another Loctician in your area or learn to maintain your locs yourself.

Thank you so much for taking time out to teach us! I am nearly to my 3th year journey….and still struggling! My hair is totally gray ( I am embracing them)… My new hair tends to grow away from the locs and constantly I have my hands in my hair!!… I have done interlocking myself but it gives me a burning feeling on my head… maybe I should let them be… For moisterizeing I use water ,olive oil and coconut oil… so far so good! Thanks again!

Hi , I’m one month loc’d and I used the crochet method ( instant locs) and I styled them the same day I did them , I wanted to know if I can let them free or do I have to style them again and again for them to loc properly ?

Congratulations on your new loc journey! You can let them be free and they will continue to loc. By doing the crochet method you skipped all the “hard work”.

I have been natural for 7 going on 8 years now. For my 8th Anniversary I want to get my hair parted and two-strand twisted to start my locs. I love having thick natural coily hair, but I am tired of the amount of maintenance that can occur. I know it is a common misconception that people with locs do nothing to their hair. However, it appears the maintenance of locs is “calmer”. Just as thoughtful but not as obsessive. No combs, no heat styling, no heavy creams and gels to define, tame, lay, straighten, etc. And although locs require just as much love, I cannot wait to be able to live without fear of my hair (“reverting” especially).

Hello. So i definitely agree with not semi freeforming when locks are thinning. I see so many ppl telling ppl to do this in lock groups on fb and i just pull back bcz ppl go crazy when you dont agree with their opinion. My question is what fo you do when a persons locks are breaking at the base. I think cutting and reattaching to a stronger base is a great idea but its hard trying to tell someone let me cut these thinning ones and put them back. Then have to do it anyway when they snap off.

I know what you mean about social media and conflicting opinions! Protect your energy! As a Professional, I would advise them of my recommendation and potential consequences of not following through with what I advice. Then, let them make the choice. You have to stand firm in your role as their “Doctor of Hair” and they should trust your judgement enough to accept your recommendation. If they aren’t willing to trust you, I would ask you whether you feel you are attracting your ideal clientele?

Good Morning Jocelyn, I’ve been growing my dreads for almost two years now and I love my dreads but they don’t look the way I want them to. I try to go to thebsalon as often as I can but honestly just don’t have the time to go the once a months should because of work family and all different reasons. I try to keep up hut it is hard. How do I get my locs to look healthy? Nice shiny beautiful ropes

Peace Kevan! To answer your question, you have to make the choice of committing to the requirements to attain healthy locs. Whether that looks like you (1) committing several hours once a month for thorough grooming and weekly moisturizing or (2) making the time to invest in a Loctician that can provide consistent cleansing and grooming. You cannot just happen to have healthy locs it takes intentional work!

I welcome you to setup a Virtual Consultation with me to create an at-home hair care regimen or visit for step-by-step training on self-grooming.

I just read the information you provided. Thank you so much for this. I have naturally thin hair even before the loc journey. This helps a lot.

So um how often should you wash your locks if you want them to be semi freeform?
and could you list or tell me a good routine to do for freeform locks?

You shampoo your hair normally when they’re semi-freeform. After you shampoo you do not groom the locs for several months. That is what makes them “semi-freeform”.

Is it okay to still semi freeform if only one of the locs were thinning. I think it was starting to break off because I didnt wash it enough

If you know for sure that the thinning is a result of buildup; then sure, give semi-freeforming a try. Start slow. Maybe go 1 month beyond your normal grooming timeframe to see how your roots handle it.

How often should locs be washed if semi free form style is desired?

Hey I have been on my sista loc journey for 11 yrs and now have notice thinning really bad at the roots pretty much all over, especially in the top area.I have not experienced this before

I’m so sorry that you are experiencing this! I would highly recommend checking out this article/video about Sisterlocks and Hair Loss — click here to read it!

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